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European status on temporal bone training: a questionnaire study

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In otorhinolaryngology training, introduction to temporal bone surgery through hands-on practice on cadaveric human temporal bones is the gold-standard training method before commencing supervised surgery. During the recent decades, the availability of such specimens and the necessary laboratory facilities for training seems to be decreasing. Alternatives to traditional training can consist of drilling artificial models made of plaster or plastic but also virtual reality (VR) simulation. Nevertheless, the integration and availability of these alternatives into specialist training programs remain unknown.


We conducted a questionnaire study mapping current status on temporal bone training and included responses from 113 departments from 23 countries throughout Europe.


In general, temporal bone training during residency in ORL is organized as in-house training, or as participation in national or international temporal bone courses or some combination hereof. There are considerable differences in the availability of training facilities for temporal bone surgery and the number of drillings each ORL trainee can perform. Cadaveric dissection is still the most commonly used training modality.


VR simulation and artificial models are reported to be used at many leading training departments already. Decreasing availability of cadavers, lower costs of VR simulation and artificial models, in addition to established evidence for a positive effect on the trainees’ competency, were reported as the main reasons. Most remaining departments expect to implement VR simulation and artificial models for temporal bone training into their residency programs in the near future.

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We would like to thank Dr. Ulrik Pedersen, President of the UEMS ORL section, and all the board members of the UEMS-ORL and EAONO for their assistance with distributing the questionnaire.

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Correspondence to Steven Arild Wuyts Andersen.

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This study did not receive any funding.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Frithioff, A., Sørensen, M.S. & Andersen, S.A.W. European status on temporal bone training: a questionnaire study. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol 275, 357–363 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00405-017-4824-0

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  • Temporal bone surgery
  • Mastoidectomy
  • Surgical education
  • Cadaveric dissection
  • Simulation-based training